It’s been a year since your wedding, one of the happiest days of your life. Your big day is beginning to become a distant yet wonderful memory and married life has now begun. They say the first year of marriage can be tough but also completely affirming. I’ve been really happily married for over eight years however I was married to someone else for a very short time, many years ago (I call it my starter marriage!). That marriage lasted little over a year and that experience at the time was one of the toughest, most challenging and painful moments of my life.
Marriage requires commitment and based upon my experiences and those of the couples whose weddings I’ve photographed, as well reflections and some research, I’ve compiled some useful pointers. Here are some helpful things for you to consider as you approach married life.
Allow each other to change
You might assume that once you get married, you will remain the same. This isn’t true in anyone I know and it is best to allow each other to evolve. You’re a partnership now. FYI, I’ve noticed there’s a tendency to sometimes panic ‘This is our life now and nothing will change!’ This also isn’t true! You’ll both evolve in your relationship, allow each other to develop and don’t try to control each other.
Money, money, money
If this is the first time you’re joining finances with another person, then remember that it’s no longer about your personal choices of how you want to spend money. Instead, it changes to the question; ‘How do we spend our money?’ Do you two have similar principles? Do you donate to the same causes? Do you celebrate in similar ways? These are important points to consider and discuss. There is no right or wrong approach to how you manage your money but you both need to agree and be comfortable with the approach you choose.
There is no one right way of doing things
There seems to be a greater tolerance for doing things differently when you’re not married. Whilst we could debate about cultural norms, it is best to focus on the fact that there is no one right way of doing things. If you don’t both want to attend a family function or special event, you need to work that out between you. You may find that your families are quite flexible about whether both of you attend family events before you get married, but it would seem that these attitudes change after the wedding. Do make sure you get a good sense of how you want to meet those expectations and what you want to do about them!
Relax with your expectations
Who does what can be just a source of grumbling between an unmarried couple, but when you get married there can be a slight ramping up of these underlying feelings, including matters in the bedroom! Even within months of your wedding day, there can be expectations which put pressure on the couple to have ‘The best sex ever’ because surely aren’t you happier than ever? As ever, it’s communication that is key.
Many marriage experts suggest that you need to talk everything out, but actually by relaxing and considering whether you really need to bring every single thing up with your partner, you may see that you do not need to talk everything out!
Give each other space
You may read other advice columns that tell you to get involved in each other’s hobbies, but actually I would recommend that you give each other space. You’re not the same people, with the same thoughts and emotions, and you need to take time for yourself, doing what you love to do. My husband goes away every ear to Scotland mountain biking with his friends, I also go away every year with my photography friends and then with my old school friends. We appreciate each other more for having our own space. You can find other activities that the two of you can get involved with together.
Put each other first
It is not your job to make the other person happy. HOWEVER you should always put the other person first and consider, what action can I take that will be of most benefit to all. This is a golden rule: Of all your relationships, your spouse always comes first.
Don’t sleep on an argument
It has been said a thousand times but it is definitely true. Try and sort out disagreements before turning in, or at least agree to save the discussion until morning. You’ll get a much better night’s sleep as a result!
This may feel like I’m a bearer of bad news, so here are some genuinely positive personal shares from couples whose wedding I’ve photographed in the past year.
Bringing a Newfound Strength & Unity
Laura & Nathan
‘Although we’ve not yet been married for a whole year, so far it’s been a lovely experience! I wasn’t expecting anything dramatic to change between the two of us however; it’s been wonderful to call each other husband (and wife) as it gives the relationship a real sense of strength and unity. It’s also made me feel very grown up!’
‘Being married hasn’t really changed how we feel about or approach the relationship; we love each other more every day, but probably feel even more settled, secure and closer to each other.’
Making Decisions Together
Hannah & Conrad
‘Whilst we would normally make decisions together before we were married, marriage has certainly made us feel more like a single unit not just to the outside world but to each other. We’ve been busy planning ideas for developing our garden (we created a gardening gift list for a wedding which included items such as plants, shrubs and even trees!) and we’re even contemplating redesigning an outbuilding, which is exciting.’
Falling In Love All Over Again
Daniel & Jade
‘We’ve not been married long, and if we are completely honest, we didn’t expect a single thing to change. The only difference that we could see is we would be legally bound to each other for life.
But I’m pleased to say we were wrong. Despite having the same house, the same jobs and the same adorable cat to come home to, things are different. Not massively, but subtly different. There are the little glances we cast at each other, those looks where you just look at someone and think just how wonderful they are. But the best thing? We’ve gotten to fall in love with each other all over again.’
Julia & David
‘It’s amazing how quickly the first year has flown by. As well as getting married, we had a busy year with lots of change, including moving house, so it was all too easy to get caught up in the routine of life and forget to enjoy our first year of marriage – we realised how important it was, and is, to stop and remember the special moments, even just the trivial things, and enjoy being Mr & Mrs. Sometimes, just realising that we’re married, that’s fab, calling each other Mr and Mrs (even though we haven’t actually got the same surname yet!), looking at our wedding rings or feeling it when we’re walking holding hands, or just knowing that we chose each other to be stuck with!’
To conclude this juicy topic, I think the most important lesson I can share is have fun and be grateful. What do you think? Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share? I’d love to know.